KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (Nov. 10, 2016) -- “A safe, grace-filled place.” That’s what Fountain City United Methodist Church will offer to veterans through a new support group launching Nov. 15.
"Welcome Home" is a support group for veterans led by veterans as part of Fountain City UMC’s Celebrate Recovery (CR) ministry. In honor of Veterans Day observed on Nov. 11, Welcome Home will launch Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 6:30 p.m.
“Through the ministry of Celebrate Recovery-North Knoxville, we have identified more people who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the need to minister in a more deliberate way to our veterans,” said the Rev. John Gargis, associate pastor for evangelism and hospitality at Fountain City UMC.
Each week the church welcomes newcomers and offers support groups to help them deal with hurts, hang-ups, and habits on Tuesday nights. Two veterans, from different generations, who are active in the CR ministry will lead the group for veterans and offer their own experiences.
The military of today looks differently than it did decades ago, Gargis said. The challenges of returning home post-service or deployment are ever changing.
“Many veterans who have returned home have an identity struggle. One day they’re on the front lines fighting for our country and the very next day they could be home," he said. "When veterans return home they often struggle with their identity and how to learn a new normal. CR helps those who have gone from lost identity to their true identity in Christ."
For Gargis this is personal: He recently received his 14-year sobriety chip through Celebrate Recovery and also has a son on active duty in the U.S. Navy.
“Welcome Home” is a focus of the national Celebrate Recovery ministry. Fountain City UMC will be the first church in the Holston Conference to offer the group and the only current group in Tennessee.
John Baker, founder of Celebrate Recovery, expressed excitement for the new group. “Veterans Day is a perfect day to launch the ‘Welcome Home’ group. Just think of all our courageous men and women that Celebrate Recovery is going to help recover from their hurts, hang-ups, and habits. It is an honor to give back to those that have protected our country and our freedom.”
Gargis said, “We hope that this group will become a resource for other churches to help direct those veterans they know who are looking for a safe place will refer them."
Fountain City UMC is located at 212 Hotel Road, Knoxville, TN 37918. For more information, visit the Celebrate Recovery-North Facebook page.